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The New Libya

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Widespread Libyan Torture

October 2nd 2013

Libyan freedom fighter

Widespread torture of jailed Libyans by so-called Brigades is routinely occurring in detention centers throughout the North African nation, according to a report released by the United Nations' Geneva office on Oct. 1, 2013. The Libyan Brigades is merely a new term to describe the country's numerous militias. Libyan detention facilities being run by independent Brigades began during the 2011 revolution that culminated in the overthrow of the dictatorship of Moamar Khadhafi. The U.N. report urges the Libyan government headquartered in Tripoli to control all of the detention or prison facilities within the country.

Tuesday's report was issued by the U.N. Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The report's purpose is to assist Libyan efforts against unjust detention practices and the torture of prisoners "by monitoring abuses in detention centers, advocating for remedial action, advising on judicial reform and building the capacity of Libya’s corrections system," the report states.

The information is based on first-hand observations during UNSMIL inspections of about 30 detention facilities during the course of a two-year period. Inspectors obtained information from prisoners, their family members, officials, and members of the citizenry. The inspectors also reviewed documents.

Quite simply, according to the report, "[The inspections] indicate that torture is widespread and most frequent immediately after arrest and during the first days of interrogation to extract confessions and other information. Detainees are usually held without access to lawyers and with only occasional, if any, access to families. The vast majority of the estimated 8,000 conflict-related detainees are also being held without due process."

According to the U.N., some members of the armed Brigades admitted and even rationalized their physical abuse of detainees.

The United Nations report documents 27 incidents of detainees dying while incarcerated with torture being the likely cause of the deaths, including almost a dozen incidents that occurred in 2013.

“We recommend swift action to transfer detainees held by armed brigades to effective state control and renewed efforts to build the capacity of the criminal justice system,” the report states.

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